Game on! How HR can use ‘gamification’ to recruit, train and engage employees — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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Game on! How HR can use ‘gamification’ to recruit, train and engage employees

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in HR Management,Human Resources

Candy Crush, meet the corner office. Online games aren’t just for playtime anymore.  

Small and midsize businesses can take a cue from their large competitors, who are increasingly using online games to recruit, educate and energize their staffs.

By the end of this year, more than 70% of global businesses will utilize at least one gamified application, according to the Gartner Group. And a panel at last year’s Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conference named “gamification” one of the top 10 HR technology trends for 2014.

The trend involves using video-game techniques—including points, badges and leaderboards—to make your HR connections more interactive and to reward staff and applicants for their contributions. Gamification taps into the social desire of humans for self-esteem and desire to interact.

Free and low-cost games are available from a growing number of sources. Some tips on taking advantage of the trend:

Use recruiting games to assess soft skills and personality. Examples: Wasabi Waiter puts employees in the title role in a busy sushi restaurant. The game promises to “embrace the psychology of play to reliably predict job performance.” It claims to reveal key skills such as:

  • Efficiency: How well do candidates process, prioritize and respond to information?
  • Social intelligence: Do they respond well to social cues?
  • Conscientiousness: Do they try hard to get things right?

Another game, Balloon Brigade, assesses how users make decisions. Both are free.  

Personal wellness games can engage employees to become healthier. Example: The Proof! game at allows users to create a personalized seven-day get-in-shape challenge. Mindbloom’s Life Game encourages users to keep a tree green by building personal habits that improve their lives. Both are free.

Peer recognition games engage employees, and foster teamwork and competition. Example: DueProps gives points and recognition for meeting goals. It’s available at for $29 per month for 20 users.

Some tips on using gamification:

  • Games that eventually provide peer or social recognition, financial rewards or career advancement are most effective.
  • Change games one or two times a year to prevent boredom.
  • Use gamification as a supplement. Don’t replace traditional recognition and rewards.
  • Gamification works best with jobs and activities that are repetitive and have measurable results.

Online resource: Check out a list of companies that supply gamification software for hourly and use-based fees.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Nick Draeger April 7, 2014 at 12:30 pm

I think, as Roman touched upon, it’s important to distinguish between games and gamification. Gamification, as you pointed out, takes game elements (points, badges – but also more – mystery, surprise, progress, exploration, etc.) and applies them to non-game settings.

The sushi game you used as an example is not gamification. It is a game. Players play it, just like they would play an online game. An example of a gamification platform would be Nike+. Users do not play a game at any point. However, there are game elements present that push the runner to achieve his or her goals.

Both games and gamification are powerful tools for business improvement. However, it’s important to recognize they are unique entities.


Roman Rackwitz February 15, 2014 at 1:41 pm

IMHO Gamification will become a regular tool for HR in the future.

So, you are right with taking games, for example as a recruiting tool, into account :-)

But I have to say the conclusions within this article are dangerous misleading about what is the success behind games and so what to learn from them to gamify reality.

You are mentioning that “The trend involves using video-game techniques—including points, badges and leaderboards—to make your HR connections more interactive and to reward staff and applicants for their contributions.”

The success behind games and their potential to engage humans is not because of points, badges and leaderboards. These elements are providing feedback about how the players are doing and so it helps to see what, if, and how to change in order to progress. Fun arises out of overcoming challenges and if an activity is challenging but don’t provide points it will be much more successful than a game that is not really challenging but provides points and badges.

So, your example to use gamification to help employees to onboard by getting rewards will only be successful in the longterm if they will experience their new job as challenging and so valuable for themselves –> Meaningful.

Also your last tip talks about to use gamification best for repetitive and measurable tasks. I’m with you concerning the latter one but not with the former one. You are right, repetitive tasks easily get boring and so it is important to make them more engaging. But it is a characteristic of repetitive tasks that it is difficult to make them challenging over the longterm because most often it is not possible for them to become more complex and difficult. So, this is why you are relying on adding points, incentives and so on to them. This means you are betting on extrinsic rewards. But the facts for extrinsic rewards are: They are not working in the longterm (think about bonus programs), it is proven that extrinsic rewards are not motivating but rather experienced by the people as pain and suffering money and I bet that YOU DON’T LOVE TO PLAY JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE GETTING POINTS, RIGHT?

I bet that most often you even don’t look at the points and can’t remember your scores ;-)

Of course there is much more about the psychology of games and why they are intrinsically motivating and not relying on extrinsic rewards but that would be too much right now.
Of course I would love to talk about this if some of you guys want to talk about it. Feel free to get in touch :-)


Mirm February 12, 2014 at 1:32 am

I truly believe that 2014 is going to be a huge year for gamification. How do you think gamification will change and grow in 2014? You should check out Wheeldo, a company that creates employee training games in minutes for more information and tips on gamification and employee training!


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